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How much do you know about construction liens?

Without a doubt, one of the most complex topics in all of construction law is construction liens. In general, the specifics of construction liens are covered under Chapter 713 of the Florida statutes. However, in today's post, the first in a series, we'll attempt to highlight a few essential points about this equitable device.  

What is a construction lien?

Florida law dictates that those people that either enhance the property of a homeowner or provide the materials to accomplish this can file and enforce a claim -- known as a construction lien -- against the property in the event they are not paid-in-full for their services.

It should be noted that construction liens are a purely statutory creation, meaning they were not recognized at common law. 

Under what circumstances would a construction lien be filed?

If the contractor in charge of the project does not pay the subcontractors or material suppliers, the injured parties can seek payment through the property itself. This is true even if the homeowner already paid the contractor in full.

What parties can file a construction lien?

There are many parties that can file a construction lien against a property, including architects, contractors, engineers, interior designers, laborers, landscape architects, land surveyors, materials suppliers and subcontractors to name only a few.

What could be the result of a construction lien?

In the event a construction lien is filed, the homeowner will typically be unable to proceed with a sale of the property until such time as all outstanding liens are paid off. Furthermore, the property could even be sold against the homeowner's will to cover the costs of the lien.  

In future posts, we'll continue to explore this rather complex topic, including the purposes served by releases of lien.

Source: City of Fort Lauderdale, "Florida's construction lien law," August 2014; The Florida Senate, "Review of the Florida construction law," October 2008  

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